Help Exchange – A New and Rewarding Way To Travel

“On mountaintop. Great view. On a small Caribbean island. Pineapple and wax apple farm. Building in construction. I live with my 3 kids. 3 German Shepherds 1 Dobermann, in the unfinished building. This is a child friendly environment. St.Vincent is a lovely island, non touristic. I can offer food and lodging for your help. I appreciate your assistance. Please come and help out with farming, construction, creating greenhouse, landscaping, plumbing, carpentry, organic planting, house stay, restoring antiques, handyman, domestic work, kids homework, kids activities, decoration, home reorganization….We speak Flemish, English, French, Dutch, but all nationalities are welcome to apply.”

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The family farm in St. Vincent. Photo courtesy of HelpX.com

The above is just one of hundreds of listings found on HelpX.net (short for Help Exchange), a website that connects host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats with volunteers who exchange short-term work for food and accommodations. This particular listing is for a property located on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean, and the family has already hosted numerous volunteers, some of whom have posted reviews of their experience. Kurt wrote:

“I loved the saltfish and bread fruit. Accommodation is very nice, your own room and bathroom. There is plenty of work, maintenance of the pineapple fields and landscaping around the house and odd jobs. Trips to town are often and you will get to mingle with the locals. When taking the local bus…hold on 🙂 it is a ride.”

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Home in St. Vincent where volunteers stay. Photo courtesy of HelpX.com.

HelpX is a refreshing departure in a world where “Volunteer Travel” has become big business. Google the term and more than 25 million results will be returned. One offering on the GoAbroad.com website advertises: “Volunteer and Travel Abroad Experience Starting as Low as USD $499.” But the offerings at HelpX are volunteer opportunities in the purest tradition – in most cases the volunteers pay nothing. In the rare instances where money exchanges hands it is usually a small fee to help pay for food in the poorest countries.

In order to view complete listings at HelpX potential volunteers must sign up for one of two levels of membership, Free or Premier. Although the site states that Premier membership costs 20 Euros for two years and allows the helper to contact all hosts and read all host reviews, I was able to read complete reviews and access host emails with only a free membership. Hosts in Europe, South America, Canada, Mexico, SE Asia, Australia, and New Zealand sought helpers for tasks ranging from farm work in New Zealand, to teaching English to children in remote villages in Thailand, to working in resorts, and in a few instances were even searching for volunteers who could design websites for their budding businesses.

HelpX is not the only such organization. If you’re seriously considering this option for travel, you may also want to check out this article that compares Worldpackers and Workaway, two other organizations that facilitate volunteering abroad in exchange for free accommodation and, in some cases, meals. Since learning about HelpX and other similar services, my mind has been working overtime. Maybe I could just travel full time, going from place to place, volunteering my time in return for places to stay and food for my belly. It would certainly be a great way to see the world without spending a wad of money and this type of travel would be authentic, allowing me to really get to know a place, rather than just rolling through as a tourist.

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77 thoughts on “Help Exchange – A New and Rewarding Way To Travel”

  1. Hello! My name is Alec i am 21 years old and I was so excited reading this. I would love to help and be a part of this and others like it. I am able to do many chores and jobs without accommodation for long hours. I’m friendly and honest and looking for a sense of community through work. I hope someone sees this. Thank you
    [email protected]
    918-370-8576

    Reply
  2. Are you familiar with WWOOF and Workaway? These are similar. We have been able to pick grapes on a winery in Piedmont through WWOOF and work in Gin bar in a thatched roof cottage in the New Forest, among other things. We were well fed, had very comfortable accommodations and met the most interesting people! We’ve had a blast and it’s an amazing way to travel! I think we have very similar travel styles in common. Thanks so much for your insights. You have obviously generated lots of conversation!

    Reply
  3. If you are in bossier city i love the country me an my soon to be husband would love to help out we are stranded an have no where to go an need somewhere to go i grew up helping my father out building houses i cleaned up. an he lt me use some of his tools im hadycap but love to work an so does he you can reach me at [email protected]

    Reply
  4. Hi I am an artist that would like to exchange art/murals for board and lodging. I painted lots of beautiful murals at Stone Circle in South Africa for Michael Tellinger’s Ubuntu project. Hopefully this December from the 18th to the 5th of January??

    Reply
    • Hi Jane: I have nothing to do with the Help Exchange company. I simply wrote an article about it. You’ll have to contact them directly with your request.

      Reply
  5. My name is AJ, I’m looking for a room and board work situation in the USA, I have many skills and a quick learner. I am hoping for a ranch or farm hand, trucker assistant, etc.

    Reply
    • Hello Alex. Are you looking for a driver for your cross country move? If so, my availability to do this for you is immediate or at your convenience. Great references will be provided; I have a perfect driving record; professional and extremely reliable. Reach out to me if you’re interested.

      Thank you.

      Roman

      Reply
  6. Hi my name is Patrick and I’m looking for a work exchange anywhere from Europe to south east Asia if anyone knows of any please contact my email address on [email protected]
    I’m in Cambodia at present I have a British passport

    Reply
    • Hi Patrick: I have no association with Help Exchange. I just wrote a story about them. You’ll have to go to their website to check out opportunities.

      Reply
  7. I am looking for a place to stay away from our Canadian winters I have been a mechanic for more than forty years also have experience in house building and maintenance as well as alot more skilss

    Reply
  8. I Looking for work in exchange for housing in the Dallas, TX area. About two months or so. My business partner is buying me out of my construction company. While my interest is design and building, I have many skills in the areas of telecommunications (20 years), automotive and computer applications and design. I’m a U.S. Veteran age 61 and handy.

    Reply
  9. would love to come and live and work for you in trade for room and board am French Canadian and 58 ready to come please reply or call 303-547-7821

    Reply
  10. I am writing to let you know about another new low cost volunteer exchange service – HelpStay.com.

    Trust and safety is their top priority. They get to know each of their hosts over the phone or in person before they are featured on the site.

    Reply
    • Dear families,

      My name is Iva Miloshevikj. I am 17 and i live in Paris.
      I am looking for a free accommodation (room)in exchange for a babysitting in a nice family. Anywhere in England would be fine.
      I have a school vacation starting from 17th of octomber-3rd of november and i want to spend my time productively to improve my English and to help around your kids and household chores.

      Please,feel free to contact me or pass on my message to some of your friends..It will mean a lot to me ! 🙂

      Cheers,

      Iva

      [email protected]

      Reply
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  16. This post and some of its comments just make me smile. Thank you so much for sharing Barbara. I went back to my little abandoned blog and happen to find the post where we ‘first met’. 🙂 You simply posted a comment. I wish you much happiness throughout your travels. Thank you for connecting so that I may ‘tag along’.

    Reply
  17. realmente se ve muy interesante y quisiera saber un poco mas al respecto…seria muy lindo que me manden mas informacion sobre el voluntariado a mi mail..muchas gracias y felices fiestas de corazón para todos!!!!

    Reply

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